The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Basu bid to broker Front peace

Calcutta, April 30: Jyoti Basu’s initiative to broker peace between the CPM and the RSP before the panchayat polls seems to have come too late in the day.

At an hour-long meeting between leaders of the two partners held at his behest, Basu tried to persuade them to withdraw the candidates they have fielded against the official Left Front nominees, but his efforts proved vain, mainly due to the short time left to the May 11 polls.

“With little more than a week to go for the rural polls, it is not possible to withdraw candidates by issuing a joint leaflet. Let us welcome the friendly contests between CPM and RSP members in certain districts and explain the predicament to the electorate. Then it is upto the electorate to decide whom to vote for,” Basu said after the meeting this morning.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, state CPM secretary Anil Biswas and Left Front chairman Biman Bose were present along with the RSP’s state unit secretary Debabrata Bandopadhyay, former PWD minister Kshiti Goswami and trade union leader Sunil Sengupta.

Taking on the role of a patriarch, Basu is said to have advised Bhattacharjee and Bose to refrain from comments that might “hurt” the RSP. Only two days ago, Bhattacharjee blamed the RSP for the failure in reaching a seat-sharing deal at a rally in north Bengal.

Basu had to step in after “aggrieved” RSP leaders threatened to pull out of the government, charging the CPM with “unleashing terror” on party nominees and complaining about the lack of understanding with the CPM on many seats.

He asked both CPM and RSP leaders to issue directives to the grassroots workers not to jeopardise the “unity within the Front”. “Polls will come and go, but the Left Front will remain as it is,” he said.

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